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Degree Programs in Clinical Lab Science

Individuals interested in becoming a medical technologist, clinical lab technician or technologist can enroll in a program offered by several online and offline schools around the country. Clinical lab technician training programs provide students with the skills, knowledge and hands-on experience they need to make analytical decisions in a clinical laboratory setting, perform various types of tests, and use specialized equipment. Clinical lab scientist courses can complement a four-year degree program in the healthcare or medical field, life sciences and health technology.

Elements of a Clinical Lab Technician Program

As the work of clinical lab technologists and technicians rely more on computers and the latest technologies, today's educational programs include many computer-based learning modules and tutorials so that the technician understands how to perform complex testing processes, and how to use specialized equipment.

By enrolling in a program, the student learns all of the main duties and responsibilities of working in a clinical laboratory setting. Some of the key roles and duties that a program trains students for include:

  • Identifying toxic agents in specimen
  • Identifying abnormal blood cells
  • Identifying cancerous cells and tumors
  • Making sure blood products are properly transfused
  • Monitoring testing procedures and processes
  • Handling basic laboratory operations
  • Using various types of laboratory equipment
  • Filling out insurance forms accurately
  • Executing testing methodologies
  • Reviewing test results

Students who successfully complete a clinical lab technician training program can begin a professional career in a community hospital, acute care center or work in a laboratory setting. After they have gained a significant amount of experience, the technician may consider pursuing a career in a private laboratory, public health organization, hospital, clinic, or as part of a research and development department of a pharmaceutical company.

Types of Clinical Lab Scientist Courses

Courses provide students with hands-on training for using electronic laboratory equipment, working with precision instruments, computer architecture and preparing for a preceptorship in a clinical laboratory. Some of the key courses include:

  • Laboratory Science Career Entry Exploration
  • Laboratory Science Career Phlebotomy
  • Laboratory Information Systems
  • Preprofessional Practice for the Clinical Laboratory
  • Clinical Chemistry
  • Clinical Laboratory Operations and Management

Clinical Lab Technician Program Specializations

Many students who complete a clinical lab technician program choose to specialize in a particular area for more attractive career prospects. These programs may provide training for specialized fields such as:

  • Clinical chemistry technologists
  • Microbiology technologists
  • Blood bank technologists
  • Immunohematology technologists
  • Immunology technologists
  • Cytotechnologists
  • Molecular biology technologists
  • Histotechnicians
  • Phlebotomists

Clinical Lab Technician Training Requirements

Most students pursuing a career as a clinical laboratory scientist will have completed a four-year bachelor's degree program in the field of medical technology or clinical laboratory science. A four year program typically provides students with the basic knowledge and training they need to succeed in their careers, with course work in areas such as:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Microbiology
  • Hematology
  • Immunology
  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Transfusion services

Many students are also required to complete one year of training that provides hands-on experience in the clinical lab setting.

Online Clinical Lab Science Courses

Some students enrolled in a clinical lab technician program choose to enroll in online courses which provide more flexibility for those who are working full time, are raising a family, or for those who are too far from a college campus that offers clinical lab scientist courses. Online courses provide the same level of training as those offered by brick-and-mortar schools, but they are formatted slightly differently and most materials are downloadable from a dedicated online course site.

Students who decide to take online courses may also be required to participate in hands-on projects and submit videos of their work, or participate in online simulations so that they can learn key concepts and lessons. Course requirements for the clinical lab technician program vary by school.

Online programs may be accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS).

Clinical Lab Technologist Career and Salary Information

Demand for clinical lab scientists continues to be strong, as more hospitals, private practices and clinics require highly-trained technicians to fill various positions. The American Medical Association reports the following average salaries for clinical lab specialists at hospitals, clinics, private laboratories and public health organizations:

  • Clinical laboratory scientist or medical technologist: $53,449 to $63,849
  • Clinical laboratory technician or medical laboratory technician: $37,046 to $45,303
  • Histology technician: $44,370 to $53,226
  • Pathology assistant: $54,402 to $84,295
  • Phlebotomist: $26,091 to $32,316


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